You are here

Writing challenge #3: Chiptune edition!

For fans of synths, pianos or keyboard instruments of any sort.

Moderator: Moderators

Re: Writing challenge #3: Chiptune edition!

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Apr 11, 2021 9:35 pm

Ben Asaro wrote:Thanks, Martin; that's actually quite helpful!

:thumbup:
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 17657
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:44 am
Location: Cornwall, UK

Re: Writing challenge #3: Chiptune edition!

Postby Eddy Deegan » Mon Apr 12, 2021 12:04 am

To supplement what Martin wrote, I'd say chiptune-style material needs a fairly powerful sequencer in order to drive the basic tones in different ways.

The Polyend Tracker, for example, is essentially a chiptune machine at heart and in order to do that it offers many of the same sequencer features found on the original 8 and 16-bit trackers (and I suspect on many a music programmer's custom driver as well) including such things as different tones per step per channel and the ability to apply real-time 'FX' to each step to rapidly modulate or otherwise effect it in different ways.

The Squarp Hermod would be a good bet in a purely modular setup as it shares a lot of the relevant feature set.

Chiptune music is a lot less about timbre and a lot more about technique. Even though there are highly recognisable timbres from the original audio hardware in the C64, Amiga and ST families, if you were to apply the same complex sequencing techniques to virtually any basic tone (and probably quite a lot of not so basic ones) you'd get something instantly classifiable as a chiptune.

Another common technique is to rapidly arpeggiate a single channel over the notes in a chord in order to give the illusion of polyphony on a monophonic channel.

If you want to try a 'quick and dirty' experiment to simulate this, try playing the Bach piece using the same tone you did before but for the higher part use a square LFO to modulate the pitch up (and subsequently back down of course) by an octave at 32nd or 64th note intervals... or even asynchronously but in that ballpark. That should sound fairly chippy I reckon :-)
User avatar
Eddy Deegan
Moderator
Posts: 6012
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 12:00 am
Location: Brighton & Hove, UK
Some of my works | The SOS Forum Album projects
 

Re: Writing challenge #3: Chiptune edition!

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon Apr 12, 2021 1:26 am

Thanks, Eddy; appreciate those insights, they are quite helpful!

The NerdSeq is a full blown tracker sequencer, including classic tracker effects and a host of other features, too.

The ornaments in the Bach piece are actually table effects inserted on those steps in the NerdSeq.

Also, the AY3s are capable of playing arps instead of notes.

I will take all of this info to heart, and see what I can come up with! Thanks again!
Ben Asaro
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1393
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:00 am
Location: NYC

Re: Writing challenge #3: Chiptune edition!

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Apr 12, 2021 3:27 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:Chiptune music is a lot less about timbre and a lot more about technique. Even though there are highly recognisable timbres from the original audio hardware in the C64, Amiga and ST families, if you were to apply the same complex sequencing techniques to virtually any basic tone (and probably quite a lot of not so basic ones) you'd get something instantly classifiable as a chiptune.

A hearty +1 to this advice from Eddy.

To hopefully shed some more light on this topic, here's an multi-track oscilloscope video for possibly my most famous 8-bit SID theme (from the shoot'em up Armalyte):

Armalyte.jpg


To listen, click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raLQepqKulU


Martin
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 17657
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:44 am
Location: Cornwall, UK

Re: Writing challenge #3: Chiptune edition!

Postby Ben Asaro » Sat Jun 12, 2021 9:47 pm

Thanks to everyone for the great tips and tricks, but this challenge has a sad post script, as I've decided to sell off my chiptune modules to make space for something(s) I will use more often and get more pleasure from.

There is something about the way chiptune is written that consistently leaves me feeling lost and/or flustered. I love it as a genre, but I'm willing to accept defeat on this one. It will simply take too much time for me to develop any proficiency at it. I think part of this is in no small part due to the Subharmonicon and Lyra-8 entering my workflow; they have definitely helped define a compositional style that's more in keeping with type of synthesis I enjoy.

However, I do love the NerdSeq and I think trackers are wonderful and will continue to use is as my primary out of the box sequencer!
Ben Asaro
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1393
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:00 am
Location: NYC

Re: Writing challenge #3: Chiptune edition!

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Jun 13, 2021 1:18 am

No worries Ben - you regularly take on what many of us would consider huge musical challenges for yourself, so it's not surprising that one has finally fallen by the wayside before completion.

If it's of any consolation, I've attempted to re-integrate some of my old chipsound techniques into my recent music, and haven't yet got a satisfactory mix with other sounds. Some people have managed this with great success (certainly with heavy rock accompaniment), but in my opinion part of the charm of chipsounds is their combination of rawness and 'cleverness', and by the time you've incorporated them into a more traditional track with some FX some of that charming rawness has generally disappeared. A fine dividing line methinks!

Good luck with your next challenge though! 8-)


Martin
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 17657
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:44 am
Location: Cornwall, UK

Re: Writing challenge #3: Chiptune edition!

Postby blinddrew » Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:30 am

What Martin said ^^^. :)
Did you learn something?
Did you have a bit of fun doing it?
If the answer to either of those questions is yes then it was a successful experiment. :)
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 14852
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: Writing challenge #3: Chiptune edition!

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon Jun 14, 2021 9:17 pm

Thanks, Martin & blindrew!
Ben Asaro
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1393
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:00 am
Location: NYC

Previous